MONDAY 18 OCTOBER 2021 THISWEEKCULTURE.COM
PHOEBE FAIRCHILD: DIRT
Coming up at The Albany this week is the latest show from youth theatre collective Sounds Like Chaos: thirty six young artists aged twelve to 25 present 'DIRT', a piece that explores the climate emergency through stories from the diverse community of Lewisham, drawing on the traditions of oral storytelling to tell their ancestors' migration stories.

The live show is accompanied by a number of films, and audio and visual commissions from seven different artists, which are all accessible online.

To find out more about the project, I spoke to Phoebe Fairchild, who is one of the commissioned artists, and a co-creator of the show.

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'DIRT' is on at The Albany Theatre from 22-30 Oct, see this page here for more information and to book. You can find info about the films and artist commissions on the Sounds Like Chaos website here.
Shows to see in person in London - and online anywhere - including performances from people and companies we first discovered at the Edinburgh Festival.


THREE FROM LONDON HORROR FESTIVAL>>

Scare Slam | Pleasance Theatre | 24 Oct
When we tipped the opening event of the London Horror Festival last week, I think we may well have threatened you with the notion of a full section of tips this week. And thus, it has come to pass. It was really hard to narrow it down to just three things, actually, so please do go to the festival website and also consider all the other things I didn't manage to squeeze in here. But not until you have considered these three! Starting with Blackshaw Theatre Company's sixth annual 'Scare Slam', a spoken word night which offers a mixture of comedy and horror, and warns you to prepare yourself for a night of chilling tales! Hurrah, take a look here.

Birdwatching | The Space | 22-24 Oct (pictured)
And now for some birdwatching, though presumably not the slightly sedate sort carried out in broad daylight at nature reserves all over the country. Yes, I see from the blurb that I am quite correct about that: "At the centre of a forest, in a bitingly cold winter, three young people make a horror film. As the temperature drops and the light starts to die, old hates and fears are laid bare – and ignited". It's a new one act play by Miranda Barrett, making its debut at the London Horror Festival, and promising "creeping dread, punctuated by moments of terror, anger and brutality". You can see this one in the flesh, obviously, but they are also live streaming it on 24 Oct for those of you who can't get to the venue. Click here for more info.

La Voisin | Pleasance Theatre | 22-23 Oct
I've been brushing up on my slightly rusty French lately, and that might be why I was attracted to this, but it might also be because it will tell an intriguing story of a real life French fortune teller and alleged sorcerer: "17th century France. Catherine Montvoisin makes her money telling fortunes, soothing souls, and poisoning people's husbands. But when her rival gets arrested, it's not long before her world falls apart. Fast-paced and frantic, 'La Voisin' tells the true story of what happens when women take power into their own hands". Written and directed by Becca Chadder. See this page here for more.


THREE FROM OTHER FESTIVALS>>

A Play Upon Words | St George's Bloomsbury | 20-23 Oct
As you will know from our coverage of them last week, festivals other than the London Horror one are available, not least the Bloomsbury Festival, which had its own section last week. There are still many events to come – browse them all here – but maybe give some thought to taking in this rather interesting and comical play, available to view via a digital event on 21 Oct, as well as in person from 20-23 Oct. "Set on a sleepless night, 'A Play Upon Words' finds Millie trying to make progress on her essay. But peace and quiet are hard to find as her flat (or is it her mind?) is occupied by the redoubtable Lady Ottoline Morrell, literary hostess of the Bloomsbury Group. Further chaos arises as Peter Mark Roget, creator of the thesaurus, decides to make his presence known". Click here.

The Solos: Paris Crossley x Tanaya 'Ice' Martin x Dani Harris Walters | Kenneth More Theatre | 23 Oct (pictured)
This event is part of the Artists 4 Artists Festival, which is described as "a springboard to reignite and celebrate the UK Hip Hop Dance community", which sounds fabulous to me. There are a number of great events and workshops (take a look at them all here) but this is the one I thought I would most like to take in. It's a night of solo performances from three promising hip hop voices interwoven with filmed work developed during the pandemic. Lots of interesting and important themes are being explored through this event. Scroll all the way down at this link here to read more about them, and about the artists involved.

Arrival | Royal Docks Originals Festival | 21-23 Oct
"'Arrival' is an adventure. And a theatre show. But not one where you sit down in doors and watch people on stage. Performers will take you on an audio-visual journey through local streets: there'll be music, beatboxing, dance and many more surprises packed into this exciting show! You'll enter a hidden outdoor site, be accompanied by a band of drummers, and end by watching a spectacular, animated film projection mapped onto the iconic Millennium Mills. You even get to walk on water". This sounds like a hugely fun experience for families, and it's part of the Royal Docks Originals Festival, which is on until 31 Oct. Read about 'Arrival' here and the rest of the line up here.


THREE CLASSICS>>

Macbeth | Chiswick Playhouse | 20 Oct-6 Nov
And now onto a few of what we are calling "classic" theatrical works, but if we are honest, these productions may be based on classic stuff but they are mostly offering a bit of a departure from the norm. This production of the famed tragedy promises to be "fast-paced and furious", and has a bit of a USP, being an all-woman staging. Why? Director Lisa Miller says this: "'Macbeth' was written at a time when women were being burned at the stake as 'witches', and having an all female cast has helped us explore the complexities of the gender assignments given to men and women of the time". Head to the venue website here for more.

Little Wimmin | Battersea Arts Centre | 20-28 Oct (pictured)
Well, you can see from the title, I think, that you shouldn't expect an entirely faithful or traditional rendering of Louisa May Alcott's much loved novel. You'll expect it even less when you know that this particular production is a live art, feminist 'adaptation' from the very excellent TW fave Figs In Wigs. "Prepare to laugh at the traditions of theatre and poke fun at people's obsession with 'the classics' as the Figs use the story as their very own trojan horse, turning it on its head and mutating it into an unrecognisable cartoon catastrophe that talks about climate change, astrology and the infinite nature of the universe". See this page here for info and to book.

The Tragedy Of Dorian Gray | Drayton Arms Theatre | 19 Oct-6 Nov
"It's 1965, the world has changed, and London is swinging. In a studio in Chelsea, a young man is about to have his portrait painted. From there, Dorian's story of fame, vanity, lust and corruption takes us on a twisted odyssey through heartbreak, betrayal and a touch of bloody murder". This "tense and compelling yet darkly humorous reimagining" of Oscar Wilde's classic is set in different times, and I like the sound of it. Especially as it also promises to contain nudity. Only kidding, obv, I am actually a grown up. And it obviously has a lot to recommend it, given how well it went down at the 2021 Brighton Fringe. Head this way to find out more.


THREE IMMERSIVE SHOWS>>

What They Forgot To Tell Us | BOLD Elephant | 20 Oct-14 Nov
And now for some immersive performances, beginning with a first show at this interesting venue in the Elephant And Castle area. It's a promenade production, set on three floors of the building, conceived and performed by the BOLD company, and it promises to be simultaneously witty, serious, intimate and celebratory, while exploring the hidden truths in stories we tell, and showing how everything is connected. "Enter a world of stories where nothing is what you expect it to be. Become a voyeur as you join The Agency – personal histories, character journeys, baggage reclaim, creative workshops, climate emergencies, dinner parties, dragons and the red light district. All are waiting for you". Click here for info and to book.

Blind | online via Ryots Productions/London Horror Festival | 18-31 Oct
This is actually another show from the London Horror Festival, but a) it's entirely online, and the other shows we chose from it weren't and b) this is an immersive show, so it fits just fine in this category, thanks very much. And, of course, it's great for those of you not able to be in London, or just generally not able to get out much, as it's an audio on-demand event using binaural sound and sensory effects to create a scary at-home experience. "Tonight is the grand re-opening of The Butcher Library, where acclaimed historian Alice Levine will take us on a journey through the colourful and sometimes disturbing history of the building. Can evil live in a place? If you're brave enough you can find out; Just sit in the dark with us, and listen..." See this page here.

Big Red Bath | Half Moon Theatre | 23 Oct-20 Nov (pictured)
What do you mean this doesn't count as an immersive show? What do you do when you get in a big red bath? You immerse yourself in it. And what's more, I bet this will be an emotionally immersive experience for the two to five year olds who pop along to see it, because it will be a lot of fun for them. It's adapted from the popular children's picture book by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds, and blends music, song and humorous character based performances. "It's the end of a busy day and it is almost time for bed, and Ben and Bella are in the bath. Come with us on a bubbly, barmy bath time adventure around the world and home again celebrating all things bath time". Head this way to book tickets (and soon – they are disappearing quickly by the look of things).


THREE THEATRICAL SHOWS>>

Skin Tight | The Hope Theatre | 19 Oct-6 Nov
Now to some slightly more... I want to say traditional... but no less absorbing and fab sounding theatrical productions in the capital. This first one is based on late New Zealand poet Dennis Glover's most famous poem, 'The Magpies', and is a revival by the company Southern Magpie of their own, highly successful 2017 production. "1950s, the rural plains of Southern New Zealand. She has to go, he can't let her. A couple's past unravels in a tender, playful and bruising encounter. As Tom and Elizabeth face their final struggle and look back over their lives, their darkest secrets, fears and desires are laid bare as fractured moments of violence and memory play out around an old, decaying farm". More here.

Joe & Ken | Old Red Lion Theatre | 19-30 Oct
"60s playwright Joe Orton and his partner Ken Halliwell act out their past, present and future in a dingy Islington flat, and later, in a Tangiers apartment. Full of poignancy and humour, the play explores the couple's increasing frustration and depression which will lead to their untimely and tragic deaths". This play about the acclaimed playwright is based on a variety of sources – biographies, Orton's own theatrical works and diaries, and information from local historians and those who knew the couple. One for Orton fans, maybe, though it's a human story that transcends the celebrity of those involved. See this page here for more.

54.60 Africa | Omnibus Theatre | 22-24 Oct (pictured)
"Ten childhood pals reunite to celebrate their friendship. They pledge to visit, between them, all 54 countries in the continent of Africa. Seven years later they meet again with life-changing adventures to share". A rehearsed reading of this fab-sounding piece, written and directed by Femi Elufowoju Jr and conceived by the Elufowoju Jr Ensemble, which promises "a collection of exhilarating, heart stopping cross-cultural pan-African encounters told through story, song, music and dance". I'm really intrigued and enticed by the themes of this, and it's from a great team, so it's great to have the chance to see this new work at an early stage. Head this way for more info and to book.


THREE MORE FAB SHOWS>>

Indecent Proposal | Southwark Playhouse | 23 Oct-27 Nov
Yay, a musical for all you fans of musicals! And especially ones who are also fans of 1990s films. Or even the Jack Engelhard book that inspired said film. Anyway, whoever you are, and whatever you like, this is a show with a fab team behind it, and very much worth your consideration. And for those of you who managed to avoid popular culture in the early nineties, here's a bit of info on the storyline: "Atlantic City. 1988. Jonny and Rebecca are very much in love and very much in debt. They struggle to make ends meet but they're happy and that's enough. When wealthy stranger Larry Harris arrives in town and offers Rebecca a million dollars to spend a night with him, will the lure of money outweigh the promise of fidelity? Will Rebecca accept Larry's indecent proposal? Will her marriage survive if she doesn't? Will Jonny stick around if she does?" Click here.

The Body Remembers | Battersea Arts Centre | 20 Oct-4 Nov (pictured)
I put this one in this section because I'm not sure it fits in theatre, exactly, not least because its creator and performer Heather Agyepong is a multidisciplinary artist, but also because this event features dynamic projections, an immersive soundscape and interviews with black British women in trauma recovery. The performance is "inspired by the therapeutic practice of Authentic Movement with Agyepong as The Mover and the audience as The Witness", and explores how trauma lives in the body, especially for black British women. I think you'll agree it sounds incredibly compelling. Read more here.

Vessel | Online via Applecart Arts | 25 Oct-14 Nov
"Ireland, 2018. Abortion is illegal. Another underage pregnant girl dies. Doctor's receptionist Maia impregnates herself intentionally to stage a public protest for legalisation. But as the nation divides and press attention surrounding her intensifies, can she protect her loved ones from being caught in the crossfire?" Now, we ran a tip for this show last week, which may seem confusing, but actually it's not: last week we were alerting you to its live tour dates, and this time we are alerting you to the fact that its digital run begins shortly, for those of you who can't make it to any of the in person events. For more information and to arrange to view it, see this page here.
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